SOLDIER’S DESCENT INTO EVIL
Victim’s family believes justice has been served
CONVICTED murderer Kynan Watego Devenna went from a soldier serving his country to a cold- blooded killer.
Devenna, who had no criminal history before his murder conviction, was yesterday sentenced to life in jail for the horrific killing of his former partner and the mother of his two young children, Sarahjane Dower.
In 2009, Devenna’s life was thrown into turmoil when he witnessed the death of friend and colleague Benjamin Renaudo in an explosion while deployed to Afghanistan.
Six years later, his victim’s family watched in Townsville’s Supreme Court as Dev- enna was told he would spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Ms Dower’s mother Appolonia McDonnell yesterday told the Bulletin that while she felt justice had been served, nothing could take away the pain of losing a daughter at the hands of a killer.
“It’s always going to be there and I’m always going to be remembering Sarah,” Mrs McDonnell said.
“It’s not easy losing your child through that and the way he got rid of her, it’s just so hard to comprehend.”
“I told her to move up to Cairns and be with us and she kept saying ‘ Mum I’ll be there in October’ but then she was killed in September.”
After the death of his colleague in Afghanistan, Devenna was discharged from the army and admitted to hospi- tal. He eventually sought the help of a psychiatrist and was put on medication.
But Devenna couldn’t escape the nightmares and flashbacks filled with explosions, dismembered bodies and the faces of soldiers.
Defence Barrister Harvey Walters told the court Devenna was diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder and saw a psychologist 42 times
between November 2009 and September 2010.
“He thought he could smell burning flesh and he was finding his situation more and more difficult to cope,” Mr Walters said. “I hope that helps and assists the family with what has happened to my client, in a psychiatric and psychological sense, leading on to the terribly tragic end of what should have been two parents enjoying their children for the rest of their life.”
Devenna served in the army for five years and was a rifleman with 1RAR, his mother Fay Devenna told the court in the trial this week.
His first deployment was to East Timor, and it was at this time his relationship with Ms Dower soured. The court was told Devenna returned to Australia to find Ms Dower had fallen pregnant to another man, taken his car and spent his deployment money.
Mr Walters said while in East Timor, his client was exposed to brutal violence.
“His unit’s role was to suppress the gang violence,” he said. “One was often exposed to quite violent acts being perpetrated by the gangs.”
Police recordings of Devenna’s confession showed Ms Dower’s ower’s decision to meet with him alone would seal her fate.
“If she had turned up … with someone in the car it probably wouldn’t have happened,” Devenna told police.
Devenna cleaned up the murder scene so well that the first time a forensic team visited the home they couldn’t find any traces of blood. He maintained he killed Ms
Dower for thet sake of their children be-b cause he believed she was neglecting them.
Ms Dower’s sons are now nine and 12 and living with her parents. Her stepfather John McDonnell said:
“They know, they understand but they don’t know the gruesome details.
“The important thing is they are doing well.”
GRIEVING: The family of Sarahjane Dower ( inset right), sisters Rebecca Gubalane, Marissa Gubalane, parents Appolonia and John McDonnell, and sister Jennifer Gubalane, outside court after the life sentence for murderer Kynan Watego Devenna ( far left) was handed down yesterday.